Not long ago, I was chatting with another mom while we were waiting for our kids to finish school. She was talking about her frustration with the new "Boomerang Lunch Program" at the school.
If you aren't familiar with the Boomerang Lunch Program, it is basically a litterless lunch program. Everything you send in your kids' lunches will get sent back home with them. This means that applesauce containers, empty juice boxes, plastic sandwich bags — everything returns home. The point of the program is to make parents and students think and to make better choices when it comes the amount of garbage we produce (and for us to see what our kids are eating and not eating!). The way to avoid having those sticky containers and messy plastic bags "boomeranged" back to us at the end of the school day is to replace them with containers that can be reused over and over again.
The mom I was talking to was not against the program, her issue was that her daughter was coming home with sticky containers that would make the inside of her lunch bag dirty which led to much time being spent cleaning the lunch bag every night. Not a huge deal, but when it has to be done EVERY evening, I totally understand her frustration (I'd be upset too!). She was fully open to buying reusables but had no idea where to go, what to buy, and where to start. Going green was new to her but she was open to it, which was wonderful.
I once owned an eco store, so this knowledge comes a little easier to me. In my store, I had an entire section dedicated to litterless lunches so I gave her a few suggestions. I saw her again a few weeks later and she had used some of my suggestions and is now happy!
Seeing as how she was having trouble knowing where to start when it came to converting to a litterless lunch system, I know there are others. Don't fear the litterless lunch, I am here to help! Once you've bought your stainless steel water bottle, here are some items I think you (and your kids!) will love.
LunchBot containers are made with 18/8 stainless steel and come in a variety of sizes and colours. They can be used for sandwiches, fruits, crackers and pretty much anything else (some containers are spill-proof, some are not). They also make thermos's for hot lunches. We have a LunchBot that my eldest has been using since junior kindergarten and it is still in perfect shape. They last a long time as long as they are taken care of. $24.95 - $44.95
I sold a variety of Wean Green containers in my store and some parents were hesitant to purchase because they are made of glass. I get it, glass + kids = scary. BUT, these containers are made from thick, tempered glass (think of the same type of glass used for Pyrex dishes) that can stand up to a lot. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and fun colours and can be used to carry pretty much any food. They are spill-proof so they are great for dips. $7.99 - $44.99
Colibri Reusable Snack Bags are made right here in Canada by a couple of sisters in Manitoba. They feature a zippered opening, come in several designs, and sizes. Clean up is super easy, just wipe them clean in side and out. $8.00 - $9.00
If having separate bags and containers is not for you, then consider a bento style lunch box. I sold the Go Green Lunch boxes in my store and during back-to-school season, I had a hard time keeping them in stock—they were that popular. They feature separate, spill-proof compartments and come with a small stainless steel water bottle. Each lunch box also comes with a carry bag, there are many designs to choose from. The positive side to going this route is that you'll just have one container and lid to clean each night. $47.97
These are just a few suggestions I have personal experience with; there are of course so many other options available. Do you have a favourite brand you use for your kids' litterless lunches?
All of these products are safe, eco-friendly, and will last a long time. In addition to being used for school lunches, they can also be used for travel. They cost a little more up front than a box of plastic bags, but are so worth it when you find yourself washing the containers and preparing them for the next day rather than washing applesauce out of the inside of your kids' lunch bags every evening!